The A’s declined to extend qualifying offers to free agents Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour, but they were linked Monday to another big-name pitcher from their past.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Oakland is one of eight teams that has contacted right-hander Tim Hudson, a free agent who won 92 games with the A’s from 1999-2004. The 38-year-old Hudson, who spent the past nine seasons with the Braves, is recovering from a fractured right ankle that ended his 2013 season in July.
He is scheduled to have a screw removed from his ankle this week and reportedly would be able to throw off the mound about two weeks after that.
The A’s interest certainly will tug at the heartstrings of their fans. Hudson, along with Mark Mulder and Barry Zito, formed the “Big Three” pitching combo that helped propel Oakland to four straight postseason appearances from 2000-03. Hudson was dealt to the Braves following the 2004 season.
The A’s reported interest in Hudson – or any free-agent starter for that matter -- is a sign that bringing back Colon for 2014 is no sure thing. A’s general manager Billy Beane has declared he would like to re-sign Colon, who went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and was an All-Star this past season.
The A’s declined to extend Colon a qualifying offer that would have guaranteed him a $14.1 million salary next season had he accepted. If they don’t reach a contract agreement with him by 8:59 p.m. Monday night, Colon hits the open market and is free to sign with any team.
The right-hander will turn 41 in May, but he appears to have plenty left in the tank judging by his performance this season. If substantial interest from other clubs drives up his price, his chances of returning to Oakland will lessen.
Adam Katz, Colon’s agent, declined to discuss the pitcher’s potential landing spots Monday.
Were Colon to depart, the A’s leading in-house rotation candidates for next season, in no particular order, would be Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Brett Anderson, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily and Tommy Milone. That’s a decent core, but one which certainly could benefit from the addition of a proven veteran. Were the A’s to trade Anderson, which is a possibility, their need for a starter would intensify.
A’s officials, per team policy, do not publicly discuss their free-agent pursuits. But the fact that the Braves declined to extend Hudson a qualifying offer lends credence to the A’s potential interest – signing him would not cost the team a draft pick.
Among the other teams being linked to Hudson are the Giants, Red Sox, Rangers, Indians and Royals. The Braves reportedly want to re-sign Hudson and have a one-year offer on the table to the Georgia native.
Should the A’s look elsewhere for starting pitching help, names such as Scott Feldman, Dan Haren and Scott Kazmir could be potential targets.
With Balfour expected to sign elsewhere, searching for late-inning relief help figures to be an A’s priority. There are several enticing free-agent targets, including Joaquin Benoit, Edward Mujica, Fernando Rodney, Brian Wilson, Jesse Crain and Joe Smith. But how much are the A’s willing to pay to be serious suitors?
Second base might be a position where the A’s look to upgrade, and Omar Infante would be an intriguing target. But the A’s have Alberto Callaspo under contract for just over $4.8 million next season, and they could simply look to give him more innings in a platoon with Eric Sogard.